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Punjabi is a regional language of India and is widely understood throughout the country. It is also the official language of Punjab. In addition, it is spoken in several other countries around the world (such as Singapore and Canada) where immigrant communities have become part of the cultural mosaic. In British Columbia, the Punjabi community has been established since early in the century and now numbers over 150 000. In some BC school districts, students of Punjabi background constitute the third-largest group of students.

This Punjabi-speaking community provides British Columbia with an important window on the world. Today, as never before, the economic and social demands of a global marketplace require citizens in all walks of life to interact with a wide variety of cultures and to adapt to new situations. By providing support for students who wish to develop their understanding of Punjabi language and culture, schools maintain and enhance the cultural vitality of the province and contribute to potential future prosperity born of increased economic and social ties with communities around the world. The understanding that students gain through a study of Punjabi language and culture affords them lifelong benefits, including:

  • an increased range of career opportunities
  • a broadened global perspective
  • expanded insight into their own cultures
  • ncreased respect for other cultures
Exposure to the expression of Punjabi language and culture in its many forms also furthers students' intellectual, emotional, and social development during their school years. Applying specific communication strategies helps students:

  • practise taking risks and develop self-confidence
  • acquire verbal and non-verbal interpersonal skills
  • develop sensitivity to culture and an augmented aesthetic awareness
  • develop critical thinking and learning skills such as active listening, predicting, generalizing, imagining, categorizing, and utilizing resources (human, print, and technology)
In communities that already include a Punjabi-speaking population, the availability of Punjabi language education programs can have community-wide benefits. Trust and co-operation within a community and between school and community can be increased (this Integrated Resource Package specifically promotes school and community partnerships to enhance learning). Punjabi language education enhances cross-cultural communication and positive self-concept by encouraging students of various backgrounds to learn together and interact with each other. (Ministry of Education, Punjabi IRPs, 1995).

In Abbotsford, Punjabi is offered from grades 5-12. Students can learn Punjabi starting in grade 5 at Harry Sayers Elementary, continuing in grade 6 at Eugene Reimer Middle School and grade 9 at Rick Hansen.  Punjabi 10, 11, 12 and Intro 11 courses are also offered via the Abbotsford Virtual School.

For more information about the Punjabi program, please contact the schools directly.

 Last Modified: 22 February,2012
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